Nearly nine million Britons are living in serious debt, says new report
Almost nine million people across the UK are living with severe debt issues, reveals a newly released report by the Money Advice Service (MAS).
18% of British citizens, equivalent to 8.8 million people, consider themselves to be experiencing “severe financial issues”. The survey also specified that the problem was particularly prevalent in five English cities. Here, more than 40% of the population are fraught with debt repayment problems.
These cities include Hull, with 43.1% of people in severe difficulty, Nottingham, with 41.2%, Manchester, with 41.1%, Knowsley, with 40.7% and Liverpool with 40.6%.
These cities are described as over-indebted. In order to be over-indebted, people had to feel that their debt amounted to a “heavy burden”, or had to have missed repayments in three of the last six months.
The MAS commented that for the first time, the survey had established a more vivid understanding of the life conditions of those suffering debt. It found that 74% of those struggling financially were “unhappy”.
It also found that more than one in five of the 5,000 people surveyed said they would rather have £200 now than £400 in two months, due to the urgency of debt issues. One in ten said the best age to start a pension fund was in your fifties, and two-thirds of non-retired people said they were not paying into a pension.
The MAS is concerned that very few people appear to be seeking professional help. The report affirms that rarely do people seek outside support in their often desperate situations.
“Millions of people could escape their spiral of debt by accessing free advice,” said Caroline Rookes, chief executive of the MAS. “We know it transforms lives and the sooner people access it, the better – to take steps to improve their life for good,” she added.
Ann Jones, from Hull – the most heavily indebted city – said that the escalation and burden of her debt has had damaging health-affects. “Before you knew where you were, you just didn’t have enough at the end of the month. It’s nerve-wracking. It’s made me really ill,” she said.
Latest figures from the Bank of England show that personal borrowing, including mortgages and unsecured loans, now stands at £1.43 trillion. A similar level of borrowing was reached during the pre-crisis peak in September 2008.